NEW LONDON, Conn. – Junior Austin Nwafor (East Hartford, Conn.) finished a pass from classmate Jeff Allen (Madison, Conn.) with 2.2 seconds remaining to propel the Connecticut College men's basketball team to a suspenseful 74-73 overtime victory over Anna Maria and open the Tim Sweeney coaching era in style on Saturday afternoon at the Luce Field House.
The Camels trailed in the overtime session by a 73-70 score with 26.5 seconds left after Mike Rapoza hit a pair of free throws. Senior Ben Bagnoli (East Haven, Conn.) drove in for a righthanded layup from the top of the arc to pull the hosts within one with 12.6 seconds on the clock, and then the Camels fouled Rapoza with the shot clock turned off to put him at the line for a one-and-one.
Rapoza's ensuing shot badly missed off the left side of the rim and was rebounded by senior Patrick Lazor (West Hartford, Conn.), giving the hosts the opportunity to win the game which they would cash in on. Allen, who found Bagnoli on the previous play, then dished the ball into Nwafor for the junior to provide the heroics. A failed baseball pass by the AMCATS gave the Camels the ball back before eventually surviving to win the game by a single point.
The hosts found themselves in desperation mode and needing to stage a furious rally in the waning seconds of regulation as well. Possessing the ball out of at timeout with 16.9 seconds left, Allen was given the ball and the chance to win the game by getting an open look from the left corner and beyond the arc. Even though his shot rimmed out, freshman Ben McPherron (Weston, Mass.) was able to tip the ball home as time expired.
Connecticut College got a pair of double-double performances from Allen and McPherron in their respective debuts for the Camels, which shot only 36.3 percent from the floor. Allen finished the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while McPherron contributed 16 points and 11 boards. Junior Daniel Draffan (Hamden, Conn.) had 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Anna Maria (0-3) was paced by a 12-point, 16-rebound effort by Rapoza. Kennedy Minix-Rogers dished out six assists, and Daniel Cavic added nine points off the bench by hitting three shots from downtown.
Connecticut College (1-0) will conclude weekend play when it hosts Ramapo tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m.